Malta is an archipelago located in the central Mediterranean Sea and composed of three major islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Maltese architecture reflects the many cultures that, throughout history, called the country home, with buildings drawing inspiration from differing styles ranging from Italian and French Baroque, to the British Neogothic and Victorian styles.
The country’s official languages are Maltese and English, contributing to Malta’s international character. Despite being one of Europe’s least populated nations, with around 415,000 citizens and only 300 km2 at its disposal, it is also one of the most densely inhabited.
Valletta is the capital of Malta and is often frequented as a political space for European meetings and conferences. It hosted, for example, the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration, where European and African heads of government met to discuss the European migrant crisis. The city is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its concentration of historical sites, particularly dating to the period in which Malta was governed by the Order of St John – also known as the Knights Hospitaller.
A European Union Member since 2004, and a member of the Eurozone since 2008, Malta has a healthy economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts Malta’s real GDP growth rate as 4.1 percent for 2016. Travel and tourism made a total contribution of 27.7 percent of GDP in 2015, expected to grow to 33.8 percent by 2026. Other significant sectors of Malta’s economy include wholesale and retail trade, especially by naval transport, and hospitality services.
As the European Commission’s first recognised citizenship by investment programme, Malta’s Individual Investor Programme is a strong contender on the European scene. Moulded in its current form by Legal Notice 47 of 2014, the Programme is capped at 1,800 successful applicants.
The Individual Investor Programme has a single three-tier investment strategy for applicants interested in obtaining citizenship of the island.
First, the applicant must make a €650,000 non-refundable contribution to the Malta National Development and Social Fund, a separate legal entity administered by a Board of Governors charged with using the funds to advance education, research, innovation, social purposes, justice and the rule of law, employment initiatives, the environment, and public health.
Applicants can then either purchase real estate at a minimum value of €350,000 or rent property at a cost of at least €16,000 per annum. Whether the applicant chooses to purchase or rent, the real estate must be maintained for a period of five years, during which time it may not be let or sublet.
To complete the investment portfolio, the applicant must also acquire Government bonds, stocks, or special purpose vehicles for a value of €150,000, to be retained for a period of five years.
Applications for citizenship of Malta are processed by Identity Malta, a procedure that takes at least one year as applicants must show 12 months’ residence on the island. A residence card is issued to enable applicants to live on the island prior to gaining citizenship.
Maltese citizenship does not come at the price of one’s previous nationality, as dual nationality was allowed in 2000. It brings a number of benefits including the right to live and work in the European Union, and visa-free travel to the Schengen Area and a total of over 165 countries and territories.